What are some of the foods that you recommend eating while under treatment? What are some of the foods that may be good for your liver? Supplements can be helpful. Tell me about some of the supplements that you have taken and were beneficial to you. What are some of the foods and supplements that should be avoided?
As far as supplements, I only took them with doctor approval. During treatment all I took was a multi vitamin and B Complex. Post treatment I take both of these as well as Milk Thistle.
As far as food, my nauseau was so bad on tx that anything that would stay down or that didn't make me gag worked. Carnation Instant Breakfast was literally a life saver for me towards the end of tx. I had lost 55 pounds and was not getting enough protien. My doc told me to try the Carnation Instant Breakfast (I HATE Ensure). I was even told to throw a scoop of my favorite ice cream in it if I wanted.
Genotype 1a, Stage 3, Grade 3
finished 48 wks of tx on 4/13/07
Are you on tx? If you are on tx. follow doctors instructions. Otherwise, from Prescription for Nutritional Healing: Free-form amino acid complex. Glutathione
500 mg. on empty stomach twice a day, take with water or juice. Do not take with milk. Milk thistle. Coenzyme Q10 60 mg. daily (counteracts immuosuppresion and enhances tissue oxygenation. Lecithin granules 1 tbsp. 3 x day before meals. Protects cells of the liver & is a fat mobilizer. Aids in preventing fatty liver.
Multivitamin complex with vitamin B complex 50-100 mg. 3 x da with meals. Do not exceed a total of 100 mg. vit. B3 (niacin) in any one day until healing is complete.
Vitamin B12 1,000 mg. twice a day. Sublingual forms are recommended.
Vit. C with bioflavonoids 5,000-10,000 mg. daily. A powerful antiviral agent. Studies show improvement quickly with high doses (in acute phase, not chronic).
Vit. E Start with 400 IU daily and increase to 1200 IU daily over a month. (this might be too much) Be careful.
Calcium 1500 mg. daily. Magnesium 1000 mg. daily. Essential for blood clotting which is a problem for people with liver disease. Use asporotate forms. Do not use bone meal.
Essential fatty acids (I take flaxseed oil - 4 tsp. with yogurt once a day). If taken with a calcified protein it works much better (cottage cheese can also be used with it).
Vaccination against hep. A and B is recommended.
Do not ever take Kava Kava with hep. C - it makes it much worse. Also do not take valerian root. For sleep you can take melatonin and sleepy time tea. Consume no alcohol.
Studies have shown licorice to be effective in treating viral hepatitis, particularly chronic active hepatitis, due to it's well-documented antiviral activity.
Artichokes are very good for the liver and all fruits and vegetables. Drink green drinks, carrot juice and beet juice.
Mouse: I also could not drink Ensure - it has too much sugar in it. I took it all back to the store.
I take a protein drink (Goatein or whey).
I hope this is helpful. I have to go to bed now. Good luck to you.
Start treatment on October 12th. Can't wait to start the battle. I know it will likely be tough, but must rid myself of this virus. I have had the A and B vaccinations. I think I will be trying the B-12 supplements, multi-vitamins without iron, SAMe, and drink plenty of water.
I have a friend who is a nutrition consultant .............she recommended a probiotic for me as some side effects are constipation/diarrhea (either, not pleasant), and a probiotic is good for overall health. During my 6 months treating, I had no problems whatsoever. I also drank fresh carrot juice (4 to 8 oz) about once a week, took multi vit, CoEnzQ10, Omega 3, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Calcium. I ran all of these by my doctor as well. I opted for no milk thistle until stopping treatment. Good luck to you.
Yes, do not take iron. I forgot that. My book is a few years old. SamE is also excellent and will help your immune system. There's an excellent book: The Hepatitis C Handbook by Cohen and he has a whole page of things to avoid if you have hep. C. I can't find his book right now.
Lilla: yes the probiotic would be great. I took acidolpholus. Yes, Dr. Zhang also said no milk thistle until after tx.
Willfightit - The best thing you can do for yourself is to keep it simple and follow the boring age old general guidelines for good health that our moms nagged us about a zillion times (and that nobody wants to hear about). Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, eat lean meats like chicken and fish (especially those high in omega 3's like salmon and mackerel), cook and prepare meals with olive oil in it, enjoy lots of whole grain foods with natural fiber in it. Drink plenty of fresh clean water every day. Avoid refined sugars, saturated fats, smoking, alcohol and drugs (obviously). Get plenty of rest and sleep as well as you can. Manage stress effectively, don't get worked up over every little thing. And very important, EXERCISE. Make sure you do some intense aerobic exercise at least 3-4 a week. If you can fit some resistance exercise into that schedule as well, all the better. If you do all of these things, you'll be doing about everything that you possibly can to protect your liver and preserve your general health until you decide to treat. As far as supplements go, if you eat right (as suggested above), you should get everything your body needs from proper nutrition. It's natural for human beings to want to just *do something* when a chronic/uncurable illness is ailing them (especially if it involves a "quick fix" that only involves swallowing pills). That something nowadays is taking supplements of all varieties. Unfortunately many of them either do nothing at all (other than cost you $$$), or are actually harmful and counterproductive to your health (and lethal in some cases). And I've tried many of them over the past 10 years, believe me. If you want to take something, take milk thistle and a multivitamin without iron. Milk thistle has a very safe profile, and although it hasn't really demonstrated an ability to stop the progression of fibrosis caused by viral hepatitis, there is some possibility that it could do you some good (albeit small).
Grandma you mention that licorice has been demonstrated to be an effective HCV antiviral. I don't mean to quibble with you because you're a nice person, but I'm afraid that's not true. Licorice has not been used successfully to "treat" Hepatitis C, nor has it been scientifically demonstrated to lower viral loads in those with HCV (much less provide any relief for the liver even in the event it was capable of doing such a thing). Plus it's well known to induce high blood pressure in some people (person and dose dependent). If you have a reputable study that has demonstrates licorice capable of significantly reducing HCV viral loads, please post it here. Also many of the herbs and supplements that you'll find on the shelves of your local health food store (or from a zillion online distributors) are from China (and bottled here). With all the poor controls in China regarding product safety, in my opinion I'd be damned wary of consuming *any* supplement or herb originating from there.
I was quoting directly from the book. Any dispute you have to take it up with the authors. As I said my book is a few years old and there could be changes or updates now.
Incidently, Dr. Zhang also uses licorice in a couple of his forumulas for hepatitis C and he has a caution on the one with the stronger dose about the high blood pressure. Dr. Zhang got his training in herbs in China, he is Chinese but he is a gastrointestinal Dr. in New York and his credentials are excellent. Also, he wrote a book on his herbal forumlas and clinical trials. I will be glad to loan it to you. If you send him your labs he will give you a 15 min. consult from New York and tell you which herbs you need. He even helps people who are end stage. He's very approachable. He gives lectures all over the country and you can get a private interview with him. He also works on lymes disease and Chrones disease, so he's very busy.
No it was not Misha Cohen but a man in England. It was one of the first books written on hepatitis C.
I can't remember his first name. But I used to find it online. Put the name of the book in a google search. I hope you find it.
I have been a strict vegetarian (I do eat a little dairy) for 42 years and it's very liver friendly. I read red meat is not good for the liver. Dr. Zhang will let you have one cup of coffee a day because people find it so hard to stop. Time to go walking a mile with my walking club. My chiro. told me yesterday my osteoporosis in my neck is mild so that's good to know. Now to reverse it.
I'm aware of who Dr. Zhang is, and I already have his book (thanks for the loan offer though). I also have Stephen Buhner's seminal work on the matter of treating HCV with herbs and supplements (along with several others):
And yes licorice is a part of traditional Chinese medicine, and yes some sources claim (or imply) it can be used effectively to treat or eradicate HCV (although really it can't). But then, Cinnabar is also a part of traditional Chinese medicine too (although less so today). Do you know what Cinnabar is? Cinnabar is a mercuric compound, a combination of mercury and sulfur. It's poisonous and not good for you at all. And yet for centuries the Chinese toyed with it thinking it had magical properties (some still do). Chinese alchemists even gave it to some of their emperors, ironically in their quest to achieve immortality. Guess what happened to those emperors? (and to the alchemists who prescribed cinnabar shortly thereafter?) The Chinese also strapped a bunch of rockets to a chair, sat one of their emperors into that chair and lit the fuses. Guess what happened to that emperor?
The Chinese people are a very smart and incredibly accomplished race of people. They have much to teach us, they have a very long and illustrious history. But it's wrong to look to the Chinese (or to those who throw a lasso around TCM and use it for their own purposes) with unquestioning reverence and think any knowledge or philosophy that emanates from them (or appears to emanate from them) is to be followed or believed with little or no question. And yes, just because a real live Chinese guy is offing up TCM (i.e. Dr. Zhang), that doesn't ensure that what he's offing up is any better than some eastern philosophizing western hippie guy (like the aforementioned Buhner). And Chinese people are still people. They can be wrong, they can be badly wrong just like any other person or tradition from another culture. They can also like making profits through consult fees, book deals and supplement sales. They can like that very much, every bit as much as any crass, capitalistic westerner can.
Bottomline is that I've never known any bonafide person with HCV that has successfully treated their HCV with herbs and supplements (which includes recipients of Zhang's regimen). Not a one in a decade of looking. And I myself tried licorice, along with too many different herbs and supplements to mention in this post. None of them worked, although some did have a stimulating effect (they made you feel better some of the time). That's why I know there is no reputable rsearch substantiating that licorice has any meaningful effect on the HCV virus. And the reason there is no reputable research is because it doesn't work. Sad, but true.
I'm not a debater, I'm a researcher and bodyworker (reflexology and acupuressure). I have been taking Dr. Zhang's herbs with licorice for 4 1/2 years. Before and during tx. The NP said she wishes everyone had my labs. I cannot take his hepa formula 1 because it has too much licorice (that contains steriods) so I take formula 2 because it doesn't have as much. Vegetarians don't get any or very few steriods so they can get overdosed on that quickly. I know how I feel and I know how great my labs are and have been. So I am proof that licorice does help.
I have to go to the store now. Have a great day. I don't like to argue. I present the material and people can take it or leave it. I'm not a debater. I'm very right brained. I'm kinestetic.
Grandma I'm not trying to argue with you, but you've made some pretty definitive statements about herbal/supplemental therapy for the treatment of HCV to willfightit (an apparent newbie looking for advice). Especially considering that licorice has a potentially life threatening side effect. And at least some of those statements are simply not true, I'm sorry to say it, but there it is. And you make the claim that "I am proof that licorice does help", I'm sorry to break it to you, but you are not proof that licorice does help in any way, shape or form when it comes to HCV (at least with what you've presented here today). If you don't realize why you're not proof of that and are interested in finding out why, then ask myself or some other scientifcally educated person with no dog in the hunt (otherwise I'll simply assume you don't want to know). And that's not to say that it's impossible that someday licorice (Glycyrrhiza root) or some constituent within Glycyrrhiza will be found that when combined with something else becomes a part of an effective HCV antiviral concoction. But right now there is no proof of that. In fact, considering how long licorice has been around as an herbal remedy, combined with how many people (like yourself) believe it is an effective treatment for HCV, the patent absence of proof supporting this claim at this late point in time is starkly conspicuous in its absence.
Hey, if it and has works for her, then who the hell are you to say she is wrong or anyone else for that fact of the matter. Not everyone see thing as you, I wipe mine just the same as you, ARE YOU A DOCTOR? is that your picture up there in the left hand corner, if not then your opinion is as everyone elses. You always come across so nativity and demeaning pal.
Who am I to tell grandma she's wrong about licorice being an effective treatment for HCV?? A well informed HCV patient who's been researching it for years, and has actually tried licorice and a whollllee bunch of other stuff, PAL. And I didn't tell her she was wrong, I asked for a reputable reference that she demonstrated she was right (know the difference, BUB). And I'm not telling her to not take licorice for herself, she's her own person and can do whatever she wants. I'm taking issue with her unqualified advice to willfightit that licorice is effective and advisable to take (without initially mentioning any possible downsides either). So kiss my A$$ if you have a problem with that "geterdun". And while were on the subject, who are you to bark at me telling me I have no right to speak to the originator of this thread - Willfightit. Willfightit apparently is a newbie looking for information he can use to fight his disease. And licorice ain't going to geterdone, geterdone. In fact, not only is licorice not going to geterdone, geterdone...it could even cause willfightit or anyone else acting on this advice to have high blood pressure without them knowing it. And some people already have undiagnosed, untreated high blood pressure...they don't know they have it. Imagine someone like that taking licorice extract thinking it's going to be helping them, only to raise their blood pressure to potentially lethal levels. Do you know what high blood pressure can do to a person? I do, I know several people that have had strokes as a result of high blood pressure. Strokes can kill, strokes can maim and leave you permanently debilitated. And sometimes high blood pressure can even trigger an aneurysm, which is usually outright fatal. So geterdone, there's a very good reason to thoroughly air out the issue of licorice, and herbal supplements in general when it comes to the treatment of HCV. If you have a problem with that and perceive me as coming across "nativity"??? Well, what can I say...I'm a nativity kind of guy!! ;-)
Boy… If I could buy you for what you’re really worth, and sell you for what you think your worth, I could take the astronomical profits and then I could pay for everyone’s TX here on the forum. Yup! You really opened my eyes.
I'm not for sale geterdone, thanks for the offer though. And if you think demuring to the ignorant for the sake of not confronting ignorance is a desirable attribute in personal interaction...you're wrong. Well, except when talking to you. Have a nice day, and have fun git n' it dun. (presumably with licorice??)
Here is a link to a report that I found very interesting...have had this tucked away for awhile. It's titled "Hepatitis C and Complementary and Alternative Medicine: 2003 Update"
It talks about CAM - Complementary Alternative Medicine - and provides clear readable information and multiple study results on each of a variety of alternatives such as milk thistle, licorice, ginseng and colloidal silver. While milk thistle and licorice look like they have some promise, the report itself states that not enough study has been done. Milk thistle is found to be mostly harmless. Licorice, on the other hand, is not, according to this report. I hope this will not further confuse the issue, but illuminate it.
Key points copied from the report to consider:
Conventional medical treatment (consisting of a combination drug regimen) for hepatitis C has shown sustained benefit in approximately 55 percent of patients.
Some of the reasons hepatitis C patients try CAM are that they find conventional drug treatment difficult to tolerate or they do not experience a sustained response to treatment.
No CAM treatment has yet been proven safe and effective for treating hepatitis C.
There are many CAM treatments for which benefits for health are claimed. However, it is important to find out what scientific studies have been done on the safety and effectiveness of the CAM treatment in which you are interested. Clinical trialsb are needed of CAM therapies that may show some potential for benefit for hepatitis C, such as milk thistle. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) is sponsoring a clinical trial of milk thistle.
It is important to inform all of your health care providers about any therapy that you are currently using or considering, including any dietary supplements. This is to help ensure a safe and coordinated course of care.
Willfightit: I watch your quest to slay the dragon with great interest and I wish you well. I think there will be some difficulties that can't possibly be anticipated despite our best efforts and it is your mind over matter that will help you the most when you face those things. Good luck to you.
Hi Again, Albany fom Durham ON here, and althoughI do not have any INPUT, as what I have read from you all seems so informed and way above what I already know, I do have a question. since starting Tx, (on wk 3 of 48) I have foudn an aversion to meat, most meats in facts, and thus am not eating hardly any. Has this happened to anyone else?
I'm thinking of hooking up with them myself and attending some of their meetings if I don't find anything closer to me on THIS side of Toronto. Perhaps that will also give you a local connection and some local support. The more, the better.
For some reason most of the herbal tranquilizers and sleep aids we cannot take. Valerian root is not good for the liver and we cannot take it while we have chronic hep. C.
My liver was in the acute phase. I only had hep. C antibodies and all my liver studies were normal UNTIL I TOOK KAVA KAVA. We can never take it. Then my liver went into the chronic condition after 1 1/2 bottles. The information that it is bad for the liver came from Canada. They had it first. I know a nurse up there and she told me first. Then the information came down to the states after that.
Albany, follow your intuition or gut feeling. It is not wrong.
It's very common during treatment to have aversions to this or that. To be repelled by a food or beverage that you may usually like or even love. It's also common to develop strong cravings for certain things, even things you normally don't like. Things taste differently too, or have no real taste. Combine that with sores and extreme sensitivity in the mouth, which also commonly occurs during treatment, and you'll find fine culinary experiences to be a thing of the past. ;-) If you have an aversion to animal flesh, just go along with it and give your body what it wants (within reason of course). You can get along fine without it anyway (temporarily), lots of protein substitutes will do just fine. If you can't hack meats right now, try vegetarian dishes with protein in them (usually with tofu). Eggs are also an excellent source of protein, if you can tolerate them that'd be a good way to go. Milk and cheese are also a good source. Or protein shakes, some are soy based and some are based on egg protein (others I'm not sure what they put in them)...whatever works that you can tolerate. And as an aside, remember that ribavirin absorption is greatly enhanced by consuming it with a fat rich meal or snack (it doesn't have to be animal fat, vegetable fat works too). I especially liked whole milk for this purpose (which I usually find disgusting) during my treatment because it was a good way of getting some quick fat into my system for my VX950/ribavirin dose. And I could force it down pretty easily, even if I was nauseous or not hungry (which happened alot) - plus adding chocolate made it even more tolerable. Full absorption of riba is really important, especially during the earliest phase of treatment like you're in right now. Good luck with your treatment, take care...
I got this list from my liver clinic when I first strated tx - Meant to post it on the boards and forgot - .If you have liver disease or are being tx for HCV, or in the watch and wait mode PLEASE do not take anything off this list for it can be TOXIC to the liver
(my hepatologist DOES NOT want any supplements other than B-12 and Folic Acid while on tx)
Camellia sinensis (concentrated extracts of green tea)
Jin bu huang
Oil of cloves
Red Peony Root
(Visit the link for the complete article/page. -Willy)
http://www.hepatitisneighborhood.com/content/treatment_options/ food_and_nutrition_800.aspx?randStr= Herbs to Avoid&randStr=
Herbs to Avoid Dietary supplements, including herbs, routinely enter the marketplace without undergoing a safety review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Although there is no established system for gaining information about the risks of dietary supplements, an increased number of reports of adverse reactions to dietary supplement products has recently been recognized.
Many sites on the internet offer lists of "bad herbs," but very few cite references, so the consumer is left to question the validity of the information.
In this article, we will identify some herbs known to cause health problems, including liver disease.
Additionally, we will provide references to clinical studies of each herb and brief excerpts from the studies' abstracts. The following herbs are presented:
Aristolochia (Guang Fang Ji) Atractylis gummifera (African Herbal Remedy) Calliepsis laureola (Impila) Cassia species (Senna) Chelidonium majus (Greater Celandine) Crotalaria species Ephedra (Ma huang) Heliotropium species Larrea tridetata (Chapparal, Creosote) Lobelia (Lobelia inflata) Lycopodium serratum (Jin Bu Juan) Mentha pulegium (Pennyroyal) Pausinystalia yohimbe (Yohimbe) Piper methysticum (Kava-kava) Salix species (Willow Bark) Sassafras albidum (Sassafras) Senecio (Gordolobo yerba) Symphytum species (Comfrey) Teucrium chamaedrys (Germander) Tusilago farfara (Coltsfoot) Valeriana officinalis (Valerian) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I happen to agree with MREmeet that good diet comes first. Taking supplements and vitamins may help some folks but they may not undo or make up for the ravages of poor diet and lifestyle choices.
Where he and I don't quite agree is in the extent of which vitamins, herbs, or alternatives may help some people. After reading the rebuttals I always get the idea that people posting supporting a herb or supplement are then challenged to prove that it works. Most folks that have been at this for a while realize that the "proof" may not exist. Even if one did provide "proof" one can often provide a deluge of anti supplement studies. Nevertheless some people seem to do well on their nontreatment alternative regimens; I know of a few who claim to be cleared of the virus. Obviously, I can't provide names, proof that they cleared or even proof that they actually even did alternatives, had HCV or that alternatives cleared the virus. Since "spontaneous remissions" do occur in real life perhaps that is what happened. On the web we never really know. It cuts both ways of course; big pharma spends millions annually convincing us that doctors and drugs are "the way". (as if to say;) "There are no changes you can make to cure yourself; only drugs can."
Part of the point of this and several other threads rattling around this forum is the question......the premise....not that alternatives may cure you but if they might mitigate damage or disease progression? IF one might arrest the advance of ones HCV thru a variety of lifestyle changes might they be considered worthwhile? I don't know anyone who would personally only do only ONE lifestyle or diet change so as to prove the thesis. Most of us try 30 things at once and therefore have no scientific basis for proving or disproving these posts.
On another "front" in this forum there may at some time come a point in which a thread occurs where one asks the question; "Given the advances in a likely new treatment (Vertex triple therapy) at what point is it better advised to treat or wait for new treatments?" Some people could/should sit it out and wait for new treatments. I'd guess that some cannot or should not. For those who decide to wait might there be some "ideal" diet or lifestyle choices that they could partake in that might mitigate the damages caused by HCV while they wait?
To start the post and end with a bit of a warning......... I have also seen a member who had extremely elevated LFT's (in the 500-1000 range) who was taking Chinese herbs. They stopped everything and the LFT's normalized....well; dropped anyway. IF people experiment with herbs, vitamins, etc they really have to know what they are doing and need to monitor their labs. People do not always respond to vitamins, herbs, and drugs (OTC and prescribed) the same way. In that regard I do agree with MREmeet doing nothing may be better than some regimens (but not all of course) that people may find themselves on.
I swear stock up on ice cream and fudgicles in the freezer - they might have no nutritional value but I swear I was up to like 7 fudgepops a day (old timers will remember I was like a FREAK about them) because I couldn't eat anything because of the mouth sores and the nausea and I was so very very dehydrated that water didn't help but those lovely little chocolate sweeties sure did!
Always make sure you eat with your riba. I took them with breakfast at 6:30 or 7:00am and then took the other ones at dinner time 12 hours later. It helped me remember to take them - and taking them with ANYTHING (even if it's just an english muffin or something with some peanut butter on it or regular butter) will help your stomach.
You want to make sure to take them with FOOD WITH FAT. The riba binds TO the fat so you don't end up peeing the stuff out. Without taking it with fat you will lose more of it and the object is to soak up that poison to kill that damn virus!
DO NOT MESS WITH HERBS on treatment - if you don't know 100% without a DOUBT that it won't help and it in any possible way could hurt your interferon/ribavirin effects well it's just not worth it. Most haven't been really tested or studied so you are just better off staying away from the majority of things. I mean if one of them make the interferon less potent...........you've just tortured yourself with 48 weeks of ribavirin for no reason (or vice versa). The best logic is If I'm not 110% sure - don't bother.
You'll already have ENOUGH meds running through you eventually (ie: Interferon, ribavirin, ambien, epogen, paxill and lotions and skin creams was my daily regimen by the end of treatment).
Thanks very much for sharing the list. I appreciate your copyiing it. That is very siimilar to the list in the Hepatitis C Handbook by a man in England named Cohen written years ago.
I didn't want ANYONE to go out and buy licorice by what I wrote about Dr. Zhang's herbs. These are special formulas of herbs made by and tested by Dr. Zhang for a long time, and he has helped hundreds if not thousands of patients. I do not get any kick back from him. I just know what worked for me. I just like to share what worked for me. But it might not work for everyone. Like I said before I could not take his formula hepa 1 because it had too much licorice (even though I have no high blood pressure). Many people cannot try them because they are costly.
They are so strict at UC Davis Medical Center's hepatitis C support group that now they don't even allow any discussion of any alternative method (when the doctor is in the room). So lots of people left. There was a guy undergoing American Indian treatments in the sweat lodge and herbs. But I never found out if it worked because he didn't come back to the support group.
I think in 10 years there will be many more treatments and we will have many more choices of tx. I sure hope so. I hope SVR for all.
I tried using herbs when I first was diagnosed with HCV, ask the oldtimers here - I drove them nuts promoting herbs - well what a BIG mistake it was - After 3 months of taking this garbage (which is not cheap I went to a Naturopathic (sp) Doc and it was a "special brew" my liver enzymes tripled!!!!!
BEWARE of Chinese Herbs and DO NOT TAKE herbs on tx - you're screwing with your chances of clearing the virus
it goes, where it stops, nobody knows...I think if you have had these cam treatments work for you, youre a believer, if not, not...at least that sounds reasonable for me at this point...and please don't tell me it's all in my head, cause I just took a tylenol for a headache, and it didn't really work at all, why is my placebo effect so picky? I really want to get rid of this headache...
OK - Im really confused now. Ive been taking MT since I was diagnosed last april and now my Hep Dr's nurse told me to stop. She said no milk thistle or any herbs - they'll do more damage than good to your liver. She said only take a multi-vit with no iron. Do you think Mt would be beneficial to me being a Stage 0?
If you've been reading this thread, you already know I'm no big proponent of herbs and supplements for the treatment (or management) of HCV. But FYI, milk thistle has been found to be a very safe herb, and in certain circumstances it definitely has been found to be beneficial to the liver. For instance, there's a kind of poisonous mushroom called the deathcap mushroom. If you were to eat enough of them, they would irreparably damage your liver and could easily be lethal without intervention (that's why it's called the "death cap"). One such intervention which might be used to minimize the damage of the death cap mushroom is milk thistle extract. Supposedly there are documented cases where people's lives have been saved from death cap mushroom poisoning by the administration of milk thistle (as long as the herb is administered in time). There have also been animal studies that have strongly suggested that milk thistle extract helps protects their livers when exposed to acute chemical poisons. One such acute liver poison is called carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), and when rats were exposed to lethal levels of this liver toxin, milk thistle extract was observed to protect their livers and to reduce or minimize the damage caused by CCl4. The studies showed a much higher survival rate for the poisoned rats that received milk thistle than for those that didn't (most of which died in short order). They also performed a small study using baboons which were slowly poisoned with drinking alcohol (ethanol) over the course of ~3 years (from memory). One group was given milk thistle extract (in addition to the ethanol), and one group was not. At the conclusion of the study, the group that did not receive the milk thistle was found to experience more extensive liver fibrosis than the group that did receive milk thistle.
But the catch here is, is that the damage done to our livers by viral hepatitis (hep C in most of our cases), is imparted in a different manner than an external poison or toxin (like mushrooms or CCl4). Chemical poisons directly harm the liver cells, where the damage done by the hepatitis virus is much more complicated. The damage done by the virus also involves the immune system in many ways (i.e. the immune system response to the ongoing viral assault over a long period of time plays a role in contributing to liver fibrosis and scarring). This means the mode of attack on our livers is different (when compared to toxins). And because it is different, just because milk thistle probably protects our livers against certain chemical threats, that does not mean it will also protect our livers against a viral threat. In fact, most reputable research to date shows that milk thistle has little or no benefit for protecting our livers against a viral attack. More studies are ungoing, and maybe they will eventually determine if there is any protective benefit against viral hepatitis. But if there is any benefit observed, it will almost certainly be a small one. Don't depend on milk thistle to significantly retard the damage caused by HCV. And don't in any way be under the impression it will stop or reduce the viral activity within your body, because it won't. I've been taking milk thistle for years, and continue doing so. But only because I know it's safe, even if it doesn't work. And if it does work in some way, shape or form, even just a little bit, then I think it's worth a doallar a day to take it. Otherwise I'm peeing out a $1 a day for no good reason...oh well, I can live with that. ;-)
Lastly, make sure you buy a reputable brand of milk thistle (should you decide to keep taking it). One big factor is to ensure that the herb is not obtained from a questionable source. If it is, you run the risk of some type of contamination, including the possibility it has been exposed to pesticides. And many of these herbs emanate from China (and are bottled here in the states). And in China, as many of us have heard by now, there has been little or no oversight on product safety. In China the use of hardcore pesticides is also commonplace, including ones that are lead based. You definitely don't need to expose your liver to anything like that, so be careful!
OK - AIHer here - I will look this up as I wait for your answer, but in your opinion, eventho' milk thistle is not good for those with viral hep (the alphabets), what about Autoimmune Hep/PBC? No "viral" involved, just what I call "cannibalism", the turning against self? Doc says that I am at approx. 45-50% fibrosis - does not allow any supplements, tho' I have not asked him, yet, about MT. He put me on Ursodiol (aka Actigall) last week, but would MT maybe also actually help?
Thank you both for posting those lists - Very helpful. As I posted above, I'm an AIHer with PBC overlap and have been wondering what kind of herbs I could badger my Dr. with -:). I was a "natural remedies" person until I was dx in Aug. Now I'm beginning to wonder just how much damage was done to the liver just by taking the herbs. -:( ??. Is there anything, other than maybe Milk Thistle, that is KNOWN to actually work FOR the healing of the liver (and I've read the earlier discussion).
I tend to side with "Forseegood" on a lot of this.
The jury is still out on the benefits of herfbal and nutritional therapy. And no, you can't just say that if these things worked, the drug companies would be all over them. In fact, the drug companies are all over these things, but drug approval is a long-winded process and no one will put money into getting something approved that is a generic and can't be patented.
No one has said that herbs or supplements will "cure" hepatitis C -- nor do I think anyone has anyone said anyone said as such :) I just want to reinterate that the purpose of nutritional supplements, herbs, and other forms of altermate medicine like acupuncture -- is to boost the immune system in general and in some cases to try and halt inflammation and the progression of fibrosis --- the latter being the sole reason why at least some of us treat anyway.
That said, I'm sure much of what people are taking is useless -- and sometimes it can even be harmful -- but that doesn't mean the entire category is without merit.
We have a very bright Hepatitis researcher/md who posts here from time to time, and he's a big advocate of nutritional supplements. Also, the eminent Dr. Gish has I believe published a book with herbologist Misha Cohen.
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